Central Asia is a strategically important region for ensuring the security and stability of the Euro-Atlantic region. Its energy resources are vital for global energy security and it is a major hub for gas and oil pipelines as well as trade corridors.
In their 20 years of independence, the Central Asian Republics have made substantial progress in many areas, particularly in solidifying their sovereignty, institutionalizing their state-building structures and elevating their level of integration with the world.
Turkey is the first country to have recognized the independence of the Central Asian countries. Since 1991, our desire for a stable, independent and prosperous Central Asia has guided our policy priorities in the region towards building free market economies and functioning democracies. Given our common historical, linguistic and cultural ties, we have sought to increase engagement with this region on a broad range of issues. In this respect, the High Level Strategic Cooperation Council mechanisms that we have established with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan and the Cooperation Council with Tajikistan provide a useful basis to further our relations.
Turkey welcomes the peaceful and democratic change in Kyrgyzstan and supports the establishment of democratic rules and principles in the country. The strengthening of the political, social and economic climates in the Kyrgyz Republic is a key to regional peace and security. Kazakhstan also took an important step in the right direction in creating a multi-party system through nation-wide elections on 15 January 2012. Turkey encourages these efforts with a view that a democratic and stable Central Asia will better serve the interests of the whole Eurasian region.
Turkey’s economic relations with the Central Asian Republics have developed rapidly, and significant progress has been achieved in the fields of trade, transportation and communication. The loans given to the countries in the region through Eximbank have reached the level of around 1 billion USD. Turkey has also provided around 1 billion UDS in foreign aid to four Central Asian Countries, namely, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan over the last 20 years, which constitutes one fourth of its total foreign aid in the same period. The Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA) was established in order to provide technical assistance to these countries.
Turkey’s trade volume with the countries of the region was about 6.5 billion USD by the year 2010 and the total investments of Turkish companies in the region exceeded 4.7 billion USD. The total value of projects realized by Turkish contracting companies in the region has reached a level of around 50 billion USD. Nearly 2 thousand Turkish companies have been operating on the ground.
Relations have also developed in the areas of culture and education. The International Organization of Turkic Culture (TURKSOY) was established in 1993 for the purpose of protecting the Turkic culture, art, language and historical heritage; introducing these values to the world and transferring them to the younger generations.
Turkey has been carrying out a broad scholarship program “Great Student Project” for students in the Central Asian countries. Many Turkish schools under the Ministry of National Education or managed by private organizations exist in the Central Asian Republics. The Turkish-Kazakh International Hoca Ahmet Yesevi University operates in the city of Turkestan, (Kazakhstan) and the Turkish-Kyrgyz Manas University is located in Bishkek (capital of Kyrgyzstan).
Turkey pioneered the process of “The Summits of Turkic Speaking Countries' Heads of States”, held since 1992 in order to increase solidarity between the Turkic Speaking Countries and to create new cooperation opportunities among them. This process has acquired an institutional structure through the Nakhichevan Treaty regarding the Establishment of the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States (Turkic Council) signed on 3 October 2009. The Secretariat of the Council was established in Istanbul and Ambassador (R) H.E. Mr. Halil Akıncı appointed as its first Secretary-General.